Wednesday's segment ended with Darth Vader saving his son Luke from the Evil Emperor, and in doing so, restoring himself to Jedi status—a transformation no one guessed was possible: "Through the son's witness of love, the father is redeemed, and the father and son meet in reconciliation and true communion." That's where we pick up the story, with Luke huddled over his dying father …

This is aptly symbolized by Vader's dying request that his son remove that stark black mask, itself a potent visual symbol, so he might at last see his son with "my own eyes" or, as 1 Corinthians 13 puts it in the rapturous image of reconciliation and intimacy, "face to face." As the son was willing to die for his father, the father in his last gesture willingly dies for his son. When Luke tells his mortally wounded father that he will die if he removes the mask and that he must get Darth Vader from the Death Star in order to save him, the hideously maimed old man, whose appearance is an apt visual reflection of his inner distortion, replies simply to his son, "You already have." Luke has given his father salvation and, as we soon see, redemption. In this expression of love, both father and son realize the good and holy identity for which they were made. Evil as manifested in the Empire and in Darth Vader has been defeated; goodness reigns.

Partly because the Star Wars saga is melodrama, and partly because human instinct tends to prematurely separate the sheep from the goats, the potential for the redemption of Darth Vader never crossed the well-set minds of most viewers. For some, the redemptive ending was not entirely plausible. The Time magazine reviewer, for example, thought it corny. But the very surprise it occasions effectively ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.